A Philosophy for Passing Guard

One of the major facets of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is the guard. That also means knowing how to pass the guard is equally as important.

There are numerous guard passes, each with its own utility for the given guard you are trying to pass. But having so many tools in your arsenal can also make it difficult to use them in the heat of a match. There has to be a way to cut down on your cognitive load.

Here’s how I do just that. When I’m passing guard, I keep in mind three principles.

Spine Offline

The first is you need to get your opponent’s spine offline. If his hips, spine, and neck are all in alignment, you will have difficulty passing because his entire body is strong. If you can jar or change this alignment, you increase your chance of passing because his lower body becomes weaker when it’s twisted.

Cage the Hips

The second principle I keep in mind is to cage the hips. Caging the hips means making sure your opponent has little to no hip mobility. Guard is fundamentally about hip movement, making guard retention hard if he can’t move his hips. I usually cage the hips by pinning my opponent’s lower body, hips, or legs, to the mat.

Pick a Preposition

The last principle I apply is picking a preposition. Wait a minute. Isn’t that grammar? It sure is. I love linguistics and words, and use them to explain many areas of my martial arts journey.

In this case, a preposition is anything you can do to a box. You can be over it, under it, around it, behind it, through it, over it, etc. There’s one preposition that you should always avoid, though. IN. You should never want “in” to be the preposition you pick. Don’t be in the guard. If you are put there not of your own choice, that’s fine. We can deal with that.

One of the best ways I cope with being put in a guard is to make my opponent play the guard I am good at passing.

Bernardo Faria discussed with us at a seminar that he uses over-under passes exclusively. He uses it to pass nearly every guard there is.

I take a similar approach. Instead of thinking about a different pass for each guard, I cut down on my cognitive load. I do this by always going to an extended half-guard position with an under-hook on my opponent’s leg. This sets me up to hit the over-under pass or a knee-bar (AKA, dog-bar).

No matter the guard, I can get to that position and work to pass.

Have a goal

One more key detail I always think about when I’m passing guard is to have a goal of where you are going and how you will get there.

My preferred place of travel is always to the back. With nearly every guard-passing scenario I use, I am always trying to get back control. If my opponent defends, I take the side control. If you only aim at getting side control, you may miss better opportunities such as the back––aim higher.

As always, pressure is persuasion. Use it to your advantage to persuade your opponent to turn away from you and expose his back. That’s another reason I love the over-under. It allows you to generate so much pressure.

I filmed a guard-passing seminar, which you can view the whole seminar here. If you enjoy my philosophy for guard passing or the video, let me know. And if you have questions about how to pass guard effectively, shoot me a message. I don’t have all the answers, but I have a reliable method for getting it done.

If you are interested in supporting the ongoing content here at The Philosophical Fighter, you can check out my shop or simply buy me a coffee. I appreciate any and all support and thank you for reading.

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